Bank of America has named five Bay Area Local Heroes, chosen for their dedicated service to the  community – and two of this year’s five winners are Oakland residents.

Each Local Hero is awarded $5,000 for donation to a selected nonprofit and will recognized during an award ceremony from 5:30 to 7 p.m. this Thursday, Nov. 10 at The Rotunda Building, 300 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza in Oakland.

The first Oakland recipient is Lisa Klein, who runs Loved Twice out of her basement. The nonprofit collects “gently used” baby clothes and distributes them through social workers in hospitals, shelters, safe homes and clinics.

Klein started Loved Twice in 2005 after coordinating an effort to send baby clothes to Hurricane Katrina victims with surprising success. The organization has now distributed more than 31,000 pounds of baby clothes to the local community, an estimated value of $700,000.

“We’re not just helping financially, we’re helping to give peace of mind,” Klein said.  “We’re relieving people of the decision between food and clothes. It’s a gift of love.”

All clothing recipients are under the federal poverty line and Klein says most live in underserved neighborhoods and are uninsured. Many are young mothers.

“I don’t donate any directly to mothers in need,” Klein said. “They (social workers) truly know who needs the help because that’s their profession.”

Her goal is to raise the funds to have a warehouse space where volunteers can help sort and box clothes.

“This can’t be in my house anymore,” she said. “It’s too big to be in my house.”

The $5,000 Bank of America donation will go towards paying for such a space.

“I’m so grateful,” she said.

Klein credits her innate creativity for the success of Loved Twice.

“I don’t set boundaries for myself,” she said. “There have been a lot of challenges that I just hurdle  through. Every day there’s a challenge that I get to overcome. I’m learning so much from this. I’m becoming a better person and I’m learning how to run a nonprofit.”

She said the experience is valuable for her children, too.

“They’re learning about need and disparity. I could never have taught them that without running a non-profit.”

In the long term, Klein said she would like to see people replicate the Loved Twice model in other communities.

“It’s such a simple solution. People save this stuff; it’s special. The clothes just sits there and it’s still precious.”

Jo Budman – the second Oakland Local Hero recipient – is the driving force behind Brookfield Buddies, a program that promotes literacy at Brookfield Elementary School in East Oakland.

After retiring, Budman worked as a volunteer for The National Court Appointed Special Advocates Association, or CASA, and through this work she got to know the Brookfield area of East Oakland. She had a longtime interest in literacy work and  found a need in the area.

“I found a lot of good people at the library, at the Boys and Girls Clubs, etc., but I found that kids weren’t learning,” she said.

She discovered the Oakland Literacy Coalition and connected with other groups that were doing literacy work. But she found that one area was being ignored.

“East Oakland schools aren’t getting an equal opportunity by any means,” she said.

Budman worked with the principal of Brookfield Elementary and the school district’s head librarian to promote literacy. She helped organize a group of tutors to read with students once a week at Brookfield.

The Oakland Literacy Coalition eventually took up Budman’s Brookfield cause and created a pilot program at Brookfield Elementary.

“By the Literacy Coalition adopting us we got financial resources for the school,” she said.

Budman said the Bank of America award money she receives will go to support the Brookfield program and help create similar literacy projects at other East Oakland schools. The money will be donated to donorschoose.org, an organization that allows anyone to fund projects that teachers have posted online. Budman will help teachers formulate a project, they will then post the project on donorschoose.org, and her award money, through the website, will help fund the project.

“I welcome Bank of America’s honor, not for me, but because East Oakland is finally being contacted,” Budman said. “Before individuals were scared to go to East Oakland and organizations weren’t going, and now they are. I want alternatives for these kids. I want them to feel good about staying in school.”

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